OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Steve Kerr had never seen it quite like this in his two seasons as coach: Oracle Arena emptied in a hurry with more than five minutes left, and not because the Warriors were way ahead. This time, they trailed big.
“It was very strange,” Kerr said Wednesday. “I’ve not felt that in two years as a coach. I think we were 78-4 at home the last two years. … So basically the only reason fans would leave is if we were ahead. It was a weird night all the way around. We’re not used to that. We’re not used to losing at home, much less losing by 29 points.”
A day after that embarrassing 129-100 defeat to San Antonio in the season opener that sent a sellout crowd flooding the exits early, the film showed all the flaws of the Warriors’ most lopsided loss at home since falling 130-97 to the Lakers on Nov. 28, 2009.
“I didn’t have our guys ready to play,” Kerr said. “That was apparent on the tape.”
Yes, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and the Warriors team considered almost untouchable took a pounding at the hands of Kawhi Leonard — he had a career-high 35 points — and San Antonio. And it might be the best start Golden State could have asked for to take some pressure off before hitting the road for a tough stretch.
The Warriors will be away four of the next five games, beginning Friday in New Orleans. Their only home game over the next nine days is against Durant’s former Oklahoma City Thunder next Thursday night — another can’t-miss game on the schedule. That starts a back-to-back concluding with a matchup against former top assistant Luke Walton and his new Lakers team in L.A. on Nov. 4.
With such a star-studded lineup, Golden State certainly will now be villains instead of fan favorites outside of Oakland.
“That’s all right, maybe that will motivate us,” Kerr said. “This stretch of games is good for us, probably good to get out on the road, bond a little bit and get our game going.”
KD was impressive in his Warriors debut: 27 points on 11-for-18 shooting, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals in nearly 37 minutes. But Splash Brothers Curry and Klay Thompson struggled to connect from long range with any accuracy, their team went 7 for 33 on 3-pointers overall, and the Spurs outrebounded Golden State 55-35 . The Warriors committed 16 turnovers that led to 17 points for San Antonio.
“It felt like not that we were going to show up and win but if we just show up and play semi-hard we’re going to win. That’s not the case in the NBA,” said Thompson, who was 1 of 6 on 3s. “Not against a team like San Antonio. It was a good wakeup call for us. We realize it’s a long season and we don’t want to peak in November, December. We want to peak in May and June.”
For those keeping track, Golden State has dropped four straight games dating back to June. The Warriors squandered a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals and lost Game 7 to LeBron James and the Cavaliers, missing out on a repeat championship.
“I’m sure the story tomorrow will be KD broke up the chemistry and we can’t win with KD and all these other things, which is going to come with the territory,” Draymond Green said after Tuesday’s loss. “We’re looking forward to that. We already know that’s coming. At the end of the day, it’s one basketball game. Whether we lost by one point or 30 or 40, it’s still one game.”
Kerr fully expected it to take time for his All-Star roster to mesh , yet even Tuesday was a surprise that everything was so out of sorts.
“The main thing was we didn’t look ready to play from the beginning with the effort and intensity it takes to win an NBA game,” he said. “We’ve spoiled ourselves in some ways the last couple years. We’ve dominated our home floor. I felt like we kind of expected that to continue, but we were playing one of the best teams in the league that executed like crazy, like they have for many years. And we looked like a team with a lot of new guys trying to figure out where to go.”